Does Sunlight Damage Leather? (Answer Might Surprise You!)

Leather is popular in jackets, bags, shoes, and furniture. It’s known for its durability and timeless appeal, making it a valuable investment for many.

However, leather enthusiasts often wonder if exposure to sunlight can damage this beloved material. So, does sunlight damage leather? The short answer is yes. 

Sunlight can have a negative effect on leather, causing it to fade, crack, and dry out.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the impact of sunlight on leather and what you can do to protect your leather products from sun damage.

Yes, sunlight can damage leather. It can cause fading, drying, and cracking over time. Proper care and protection can help minimize the effects of sun exposure.

Does Sunlight Damage Leather?

Absolutely Yes, sunlight can damage leather. Exposure to direct sunlight can cause the leather to fade, crack, and dry out. This is because sunlight contains UV rays, which can break down the chemical bonds in the leather and cause it to lose its natural oils and moisture.

Additionally, heat can also damage leather. When exposed to high temperatures, leather can become brittle and prone to cracking.

Therefore, storing your leather goods in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight is essential.

How UV Rays & Sunlight Affect Leather

Leather is a delicate natural material that can be negatively affected by the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays.

Prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause the leather to lose its natural luster and appear old and neglected.

It is recommended to avoid exposing leather items to direct sunlight or drying them in the sun for an extended period.

Leather is made of animal skin containing natural oils and fats that give it shine and suppleness.

These features are essential characteristics of leather, but overexposure to the sun can cause premature aging, cracking, and drying out.

UV rays are more harmful to leather than people may realize since their intensity affects the material at a molecular level.

For instance, wearing a leather jacket daily in bright sunlight may cause changes in its appearance after a few months.

When leather is saturated with UV rays at a high intensity or for an extended period, it loses its natural preservatives.

It breaks down its chemical bonds, resulting in a flaky and faded appearance.

Therefore, prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause leather items such as jackets, bags, and other accessories to age prematurely.

High heat and excessive exposure can cause the leather to dry out and shrink, making it difficult to restore.

Sun damage to leather is noticeable through discoloration, which can develop into an attractive patina if cared for properly.

However, if left untreated, it can result in an unattractive appearance. Leather is a highly porous material that can lose moisture as quickly as it absorbs.

The sun’s UV rays can displace essential oils, causing the leather to become brittle and dry.

Although professional conditioning products can help restore leather items, reversing the damage caused by overexposure to sunlight to its fiber structure is almost impossible.

The discoloration and dryness of the material can make the leather article appear old and damaged.

In summary, sunlight can damage leather items in several ways, including discoloration, drying, cracking, and premature aging. Protecting leather items from prolonged exposure to sunlight is important to ensure their longevity and maintain their appearance.

How to Protect Your Leather Goods from Sunlight Damage?

Step 1: Store leather goods in a cool and dry place

Leather goods should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Exposure to heat and moisture can cause the leather to dry out and crack.

Storing leather goods in a closet or cabinet with a stable temperature and humidity level is best.

Step 2: Use a leather conditioner

Use a leather conditioner regularly to prevent leather goods from drying out and cracking.

Apply the conditioner to a soft cloth and gently rub it into the leather. The conditioner will help to moisturize and protect the leather from sunlight damage.

Step 3: Apply a leather protector

A leather protector can be applied to leather goods to prevent fading and discoloration.

The protector creates a barrier between the leather and sunlight, preventing UV rays from penetrating the leather.

Apply the protector according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 4: Avoid direct sunlight exposure

Avoid exposing leather goods to direct sunlight for an extended period. If possible, keep them away from windows or cover them with a cloth when they are in direct sunlight.

This will help to prevent fading and discoloration.

Step 5: Clean leather goods regularly

Regular cleaning will help to keep leather goods in good condition. Use a soft cloth to wipe away dirt and dust.

Use a leather cleaner according to the manufacturer’s instructions for more stubborn stains.

Step 6: Use caution with leather dyes

If you need to dye your leather goods, be sure to choose a dye that is specifically designed for leather.

Some dyes may cause the leather to fade or discolor when exposed to sunlight.

Test the dye on a small, inconspicuous area of the leather before applying it to the entire item.

Following these steps, you can protect your leather goods from sunlight damage and keep them looking their best for years.


In conclusion, it’s important to be mindful of the impact of sunlight on leather products. Exposure to sunlight can cause the leather to fade, crack, and dry out over time.

However, you can take steps to protect your leather items from sun damage, such as keeping them out of direct sunlight, using leather conditioners, and storing them in a cool, dry place. 

By taking these precautions, you can help extend the life of your leather products and keep them looking their best.

So, to answer the question, “does sunlight damage leather?” Yes, it does, but with proper care, you can minimize the effects of sun exposure on your leather items.


Does sunlight damage leather couches? 

Yes, sunlight can damage leather couches by causing fading, drying, and cracking. UV rays can penetrate the leather fibers, leading to discoloration and loss of quality. It’s important to protect leather couches from direct sunlight exposure.

How long does it take for sunlight to damage leather? 

The amount of time it takes sunlight to damage leather depends on various factors, such as the intensity of the sunlight, the type of leather, and the amount of exposure. However, in most cases, it can take several hours or even days of exposure to cause noticeable damage.

Can you repair leather damaged by sunlight? 

Yes, leather damaged by sunlight can be repaired. However, the extent of the damage and the type of leather will determine the best course of action. Sometimes, the leather may need to be professionally repaired or replaced.

What happens if the leather is left in the sun?

Leather left in the sun can become faded, dry, and cracked. UV rays can cause damage to the leather’s fibers, leading to discoloration and loss of quality.

What are the weaknesses of leather?

Leather can be susceptible to water damage, staining, scratching, and discoloration. It can also dry out and crack, particularly if exposed to heat or sunlight. Proper care and maintenance can help to minimize these weaknesses.

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